New issue of Liberator out

Issue 399 of Liberator is on its way to subscribers and it’s a bumper 40 page issue, mainly given over to analysing the December general election and its consequences, and how the party handled both ‘revoke’ and ‘Jo Swinson could be your next prime minister’.

The free sample articles for this issue are by Simon Hughes on seeing the campaign unravel, and from Nick Harvey on what he thinks were the eight major errors made by the party.

Also in this issue new party president Mark Pack answers our questions and Peter Dunphy explains how Unite to Remain was put together.

Reflections on the general election also come from: Liz Barker, Tony Greaves, Ruth Coleman Taylor, Nigel Lindsay, Theo Butt Philip and many others.


Also, news and gossip in Radical Bulletin, reviews and Lord Bonkers’ Diary.

Back issues of Liberator from 2001 onwards are available free on our website. See:

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Harvey puts his finger right on many of the critical mistakes the party made with its 2019 campaign.

    But his ignorance – or amnesia – as to who might have been responsible for these breathtaking misjudgements is remarkable.

  • What is disturbing is how much Nick refers to the same mistakes being repeated. He was part of the central campaign ‘Wheelhouse’ in 2015 – and then went on to be Chief Exec and could have driven the implementation of the recommendations of previous election reviews through. Assuming he wasn’t too incompetent to do that then who or what was stopping him.

    Unless that question is addressed there is little point in having starting another review.

  • David Becket 7th Feb '20 - 5:22pm

    If you want members to continue to work their socks off we must be told who was responsible and they should be removed from any further campaigns.

  • nigel hunter 7th Feb '20 - 6:16pm

    David Becket. I agree.

  • Laurence Cox 7th Feb '20 - 7:37pm

    Nick Harvey’s comments about our mistakes certainly confirms my impression from a distance, but as Hywel says, why didn’t he fix the problems when he became Chief Exec. Arguably, we have suffered because too many of our Party Chief Execs have been politicians. Our Chief Execs before Nick were Tim Gordon (the one non-politician), Chris Fox (Baron Fox of Leominster) and Chris Rennard (Baron Rennard). While political parties are hybrid beasts that cannot operate completely like commercial companies, it is not obvious that choosing a Chief Exec from a political backgound is the right way. One has to hope that the new CEO, Mike Dixon, who comes from the Third Sector will be better.

  • “One has to hope that the new CEO, Mike Dixon, who comes from the Third Sector will be better.”

    Ummm – I think you’ll find he comes from quite a political background! And I’m not sure about your non-politician definition. Tim Gordon was an ex parliamentary candidate – but like Chris Fox had a corporate background.

  • Worth reading the views of James Carville (one of those old-fashioned guys who y’know thinks winning an election is a key part of political change)

  • It’s true that narratives about either securing the second ref or Kyle-Wilson Amendment by a certain date or then going with the GE weren’t pushed to their limit.

    I don’t think stretching out the election til April was really a viable option, though. ‘Get Brexit Done’ would have been even more appealing after three or four extra months of nothing constructive happening and the ‘Remainers are frustrating Brexit’ narratives would also have been more resonant. I’m also thinking that the EU would have wanted to hear a distinct commitment to either a second ref or GE at some point – just stalling forever wasn’t going to work.

    That’s if the Labour rebels didn’t pass the third reading of the bill beforehand. Labour might have vocally criticised them for doing it, but their polling essentially indicated they had a 0-1% chance of getting a majority when the GE was called. Secretly, they might have appreciated having the Brexit millstone taken away from them, where they could fully commit to a ‘soft’ Brexit and focus on their more engaging domestic policies.

  • Paul Holmes 8th Feb '20 - 10:39pm

    Ian, Hywel, Laurence, you all ask why Nick Harvey as Chief Exec didn’t stop all the campaign errors he documents in the new edition of Liberator?

    But if you read the November issue of Liberator (now available online) you will read their account of how Nick (Line Managed by the Party President Sal Brinton) was in effect ‘sacked’ as Chief Exec because he didn’t fit with the approach of the new Leader and her team.

  • marcstevens 9th Feb '20 - 11:22am

    Can you lead this review please DB.

  • I think Paul Holmes makes an excellent point.

    There seems to have been a cult of personality which developed around Jo at the top of the party, where she was seen as our ‘saviour’ with no dissent being tolerated and anyone (like Nick Harvey) who challenged the strategy being sidelined and removed.

    Whoever the next leader is, we need to have a president and staff in HQ who are both willing and able to challenge them and their advisors.

  • David Evans 9th Feb '20 - 2:29pm

    John Smith, I am afraid your hope that “Whoever the next leader is, we need to have a president and staff in HQ who are both willing and able to challenge them and their advisors,” is unlikely to be fulfilled. Of our last three leaders, two have surrounded themselves with a coterie of fellow travellers, supported by almost all of our current senior hierarchy, while the other was undermined by it.

    It is a sad state to be in where those who talk well and lose badly are lauded as heroes while those who get on with the job and win seats are turned on.

    The problem we have is at the centre of influence in the party and so far none of them have accepted their culpability in the almost decade long onmishambles our party has become.

  • John Barrett 9th Feb '20 - 3:02pm

    It has been the case for quite a long time that the leader is often one step away from reality and those around the leader make sure that it stays that way and that criticism within the party is kept at bay.

    Then, if required, former leaders and “big beasts” are brought out to speak to the media to confirm that all is well.

    Once again it appears that this happened to Nick Harvey

  • Peter Watson 9th Feb '20 - 3:05pm

    @John Smith “There seems to have been a cult of personality which developed around Jo at the top of the party”
    It wasn’t only at the top of the party. In 2017 discussions on this site gave the impression that most Lib Dems believed that Vince Cable was just keeping the leader’s chair warm for Jo Swinson!
    Similarly for a while it looked like Layla Moran was being built up as the next “saviour”, and perhaps she will be again, but the incident reported last March seemed to put the brakes on that.
    I don’t think the party is helping itself at the moment though. There is not an obvious alternative to Ed Davey and the longer he remains as an “acting co-leader” the more it looks like the party has no confidence in him so why should the rest of us?

  • Mike Falchikov 9th Feb '20 - 7:58pm

    Peter Watson Surely the title of Acting co-leader for Ed Davey is just a statement of fact and doesn’t imply anything else. There is a timetable for another leadership election and I trust Ed will stand and win. Personally I’d rather we didn’t have another election for the time being -we need to get on with campaigning and getting our policies better known.

  • Peter Watson 9th Feb '20 - 10:19pm

    @Mike Falchikov “we need to get on with campaigning and getting our policies better known”
    That just seems so much harder without a leader or a clear direction.
    So many of the 2019 manifesto policies appeared to depend upon a “Remain bonus” which is no longer a factor and the one policy of which voters were very aware, “Stop Brexit”, is now redundant but needs to be replaced by something (keep trying to block Brexit? campaign to reverse it? try to make Brexit work?).
    All this leaves a vacuum at the heart of the party and discussions on this site give the impression that it might be filled by left-right squabbles, divisions that appear to have been masked for a while by anti-Brexit unity.
    The few post-election polls show a downward drift, and it’s hard to imagine why all those new members in the last couple of years would want to hang around to wait and see how it pans out in the last few months of 2020 (I don’t expect any new leader in the middle of July to make an impact over the summer).
    From the outside, I would have thought that paralysis was the last thing the party needs right now, but I guess we’ll just have to see how 2020 pans out.

  • Martin Land 10th Feb '20 - 1:36am

    Just the eight, Nick?

  • David Becket 10th Feb '20 - 2:28pm

    And the downward drift is likely to continue. March Conference would have been an opportunity to bring forward our new MPs and debate key issues for the public. Instead we have debates on worthy topics of little interest to the passenger on the Clapham Omnibus and a speech from an ex leader, considered important enough to be chaired by the chair of FCC with the vice chairs providing the Aides.

    Add to this an out of date boring web site and the drift is almost confirmed.

    How does an ordinary member get through to those at the top that they need to move on.? We need a new start, and a new leader untainted by the past.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • Nonconformistradical
    @Christian "Isn’t it time we flew the banner for Rejoin?" Politics is the art of the possible. Even if the entire population of the UK favoured rejoining ...
  • Chris Moore
    Hello Jason, In the past, we had considerable support from working class housing estates in the south-west in particular, but also in many towns and cities i...
  • Christian
    Opinion polls aren’t really improving for the Lib Dems, yet the economy is in crisis and Lab have no actual solution. Isn’t it time we flew the banner for R...
  • Paul Barker
    FYI Labour conference has just passed a motion calling for a change to Proportional Representation, this is a big step forward but conference does not decide p...
  • Julian Tisi
    I have a few disagreements with the OP. First - democracy: we must surely continue to support the concept of an elected HOL (or at least the vast majority must...